Butte College Career Training Center
According to an old Chinese proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” This wise philosophy also applies to the Butte College Career Training Center, which has helped people learn how to “fish” since 1998.
With the advent of welfare reform, Aid to Families with Dependent Children was changed to California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKS), requiring persons receiving state aid to work for their money. However, many lacked the basic skills necessary to function in the workplace. For CalWORKS to succeed, training was a necessity.
Enter the Career Training Center, developed by Dr. Merlyn J. Newlin, assistant dean of Career and Employment Services for Butte College, as a community resource for welfare reform. Since its inception, though, the center has become a valuable resource for the community at large. According to the center’s supervisor, Carol Valentine, more than half its students are not currently involved in CalWORKS.
The center’s goal is to provide the training a person needs not only to get a job, but also to advance in his or her chosen field. The center works closely with local businesses and public agencies to develop and modify its programs to meet changing needs.
Creating a supportive and friendly environment is also important to the success of the center, added Valentine.
And just how successful is the center?
“Of those who want to work, our employment rate is 100 percent,” she said. “These programs have literally changed people’s lives.”
A wide variety of classes and programs are available. In addition to traditional college courses, the center offers short-term trainings, a self-directed skills lab, fast-track programs, Saturday College and job-search workshops.
Short-term trainings are 32-hour classes that span two weeks. They focus on the interpersonal skills essential for success in the workplace.
“Most employees can handle the physical aspects of a job, but it’s the interpersonal aspects that really make the difference,” Valentine explained.
In addition to interpersonal training, classes in conflict resolution, leadership, customer service and workplace adaptability and flexibility are also offered.
The skills lab allows students to work at their own paces while receiving instructional assistance when needed. Each student works with an instructor to develop an instructional plan, which is reviewed periodically to assess progress. They spend anywhere from two to 30 hours per week developing skills in math, language, keyboarding and more.
“You can come in and get help on just about any work-related skills you can want,” said Valentine. “It amazes me there’s not a line around the block to get into the lab.”
Fast-track programs offer a condensed curriculum and are designed for quick entry into a career. They vary in length, but most are between 12 and 19 weeks with 10 to 32 hours of weekly instruction. Students receive certificates when they successfully complete a program. Available programs include automotive repair, auto parts clerk, office assistant, sales associate, correctional officer and certified nursing assistant.
Saturday College is perfect for people who want to pursue a degree but can’t attend classes weekdays or at night.
Normal tuition is charged for regular Butte College courses, but other costs vary from free for budget workshops to $15 for the skills lab and short-term trainings. Financial aid is available.
The center also offers student support services, such as career and educational counseling, job-placement assistance and free child care to students who qualify.
Valentine is quick to praise the success of the students. "Our students are our best references," she said. "We have employers calling us all the time because of the quality of students who have worked for them in the past."